Sheffield Steelers 3 Coventry Blaze 5: Major milestone for Jonathan Phillips but one to forget for Steelers

Skipper Jonathan Phillips' 1,000th EIHL game ended in bitter disappointment tonight.
Jonathan Phillips on his 1000th game. Picture: Hayley RobertsJonathan Phillips on his 1000th game. Picture: Hayley Roberts
Jonathan Phillips on his 1000th game. Picture: Hayley Roberts

On a night of personal achievement for the Sheffield Steelers' captain, the team conceded five goals and lost talisman Marc-Olivier Vallerand to injury.

The defeat was a jarring note after weeks of good results.

Steelers, who had won six out of their last seven league and cup games, had survived a rocky start in which Luke Ferrara shot wide and Tomas Duba, playing his first game since his countryman Pavel Kantor was sacked, made a couple of fine saves.

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Robert Dowd fanned on a shot, recovered his composure, circled the net and het his frustration go with a cracking goal at 2;26.

Michael Davies almost added another, but Coventry have some excellent stick-handlers and they looked deadly on the power play.

With Dowd serving a slashing minor, Evan Bloodoff rendered James Bettauer's efforts to ward him off ineffectual by equalising from close range.

At 11:19, Blaze went ahead on another PP.

Bloodoff crossed from the left wing and Charles Corcoran beat Duba.

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Coventry were on the up with Jamie Phillips' big green pads stopping a Vallerand penalty shot.

But it was a period where special teams excelled and Dowd was credited with making the game all square at 2-2, on Steelers' first PP of the night.

The goal survived video review.

Lucas Sandström binned for tripping in what seemed a soft call, but Justin Hache escaped any punishment for manhandling Phillips while he was in full flight.

The officials eventually punished the visiting goalie for a slash on Brendan Connolly.

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John Armstrong's shot injured Chris Pohlkamp and Marek Troncinsky pounded the puck into the netminder's chest as Sheffield tried to move up a gear.

The game - which had lost Vallerand earlier from an upper body injury - was interrupted by more penalties and the second period ended without any change to the scoreboard.

But Blaze were certainly on fire at the start of the third session.

When Connolly was called for slashing they collected their third PP of the night, with Pohlkamp converting.

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The Midlands outfit were fortunate with their fourth goal; the puck bouncing off Bloodoff's leg after it had been whipped in to the crease by Dillon Eichstadt.

Aaron Fox's men had to start being more creative, in Vallerand's absence.

With eight minutes remaining, they found a way, their PP unit reduced the score to 3-4, Connolly's wrist shot tipped in by Sandstrom.

Sheffield threw everything they had at Coventry in the closing moments.

But Blaze scored an empty netter to ensure the points, with two seconds remaining, through Pohlkamp.